How to monitor disk I/O in Linux from command line

If your system gets slow down due to heavy I/O activities, you probably want to know which processes or users (in case of multi-user systems) are the culprit for such activities. You may also wish to disk I/O trending over time as part of daily Linux system administration. Here I will introduce several disk I/O monitoring tools on Linux.

Monitor disk I/O on per-process basis

If you want to monitor disk I/O activities of individual Linux processes, you can try iotop. This tool shows a sorted list of the most I/O intensive processes in real time via top-like interface.

To  iotop on or Debian, run the following.

$ sudo apt-get install iotop

To install iotop on Fedora, run:

$ sudo install iotop

To install iotop on or RHEL, first set up RepoForge repository on your system, and then use yum.

$ sudo yum install iotop

To monitor disk I/O with iotop:

$ sudo iotop

Running iotop without any argument like above shows a list of all existing processes regardless of their disk I/O activities. If you want iotop to only show processes that are actually doing disk I/O, run the following instead.

$ sudo iotop -o

Monitor disk I/O on per-disk basis

If you are interested in monitoring disk read/write rates of individual , you can use iostat. To use this tool, you need to run sysstat package.

To install sysstat on Ubuntu or Debian:

$ sudo apt-get install sysstat

To install sysstat on CentOS, RHEL or Fedora:

$ sudo yum install sysstat

To monitor disk I/O of individual disks with iostat:

$ sudo iostat <update_interval_in_seconds>
Linux 3.2.0-29-generic-pae (my_host) 	04/06/2013 	_i686_	(2 CPU)

avg-cpu:  %user   %nice %system %iowait  %steal   %idle
           2.11    0.08    3.20    3.65    0.00   90.96

Device:            tps    kB_read/s    kB_wrtn/s    kB_read    kB_wrtn
sda              55.77      1403.98      2138.71    4139635    6306020
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